As many people are doing during this pandemic, I am baking bread more often now. Three weeks ago I wrote about returning to Tartine breads, and I am continuing further down that path. My breads are good now, most of the time, but the quality and taste have “plateaued” in my opinion. Since I have the time now, I’ve decided to “up my game” in a couple of critical areas where I see room for improvement.
Fortunately, I’ve found a number of superb blogs and articles about artisan bread-making on the internet. They helped me identify two skills I need to improve: (1) achieve a more vigorous bread starter and (2) learn how to stretch, fold, and shape the dough more effectively. Here are just a few of the resources I’ve found to be helpful:
If you are a bread maker — novice, intermediate or expert — you should explore on your own and do what you find most comfortable. There are a thousand good ways to do most of this, so just develop yours. Practice and experience and plenty of mistakes — these will provide the learning.
This week I put two changes into practice.
Starter. I fed my starter twice a day, on a regular schedule (vs. once a day usually mornings — but not consistently), and I played with another starter, too. My main starter is fed 50/50 percent white bread flour and whole wheat. The new one started with the seed of my original, but is fed with a mix of all-purpose and rye flours instead.
Folding. I watched several good videos online for folding technique, and a used what I saw to adapt how I handled the dough.
The results were impressive and encouraging. Here are the visual results. The tastes are even better, especially when toasted. I should have left the loaves in the oven 5-10 minutes longer to cook more thoroughly.